How to Survive Sleep Deprivation with a Newborn: 7 Critical Tips
There’s no doubt about it: the first eight weeks of your baby’s life are some of the most difficult and exhausting ones you’ll face. If you’re wondering how you’re going to survive sleep deprivation with a newborn, guest contributor Lizzy Fraser of Bravery and Belonging has some fantastic tips to share with you.
Lizzy began her journey of motherhood after adopting a precious toddler. Since then, she has been no stranger to sleep-deprivation. In this post, Lizzy shares some of her favorite immediate and long-term solutions to help sleep-deprived moms keep functioning. Whether you’re in the trenches of the newborn phase, or enduring night after night with a sleepless toddler, I hope this mom-of-two’s experiences provide some relief.
Looking for some tried and tested ways to continue ‘being mom’ when you can barely even stay awake and upright? I’ve got you covered.
We’ve all been in that sleep deprived season and, rest assured, it does eventually end. You will sleep again, and it will be bliss! In the meantime, here are 7 tried and tested ways sleep deprived moms keep functioning each day.
I’ve included a mixture of short-term fixes that you can try right now to feel better, and some long-term solutions to help you feel more human going forward.
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Immediate Solutions for Sleep Deprivation with a Newborn: I.e., What Can I Do Now?
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Firstly, there is obviously no magic wand we can wave to instantly feel awake and full of energy on little, to no, sleep. I mean, if you do ever find one, please let me know!
Whilst I can’t make that sleep-deprived haze go away completely for you, here are a few things you can do right now to help yourself feel better and function more humanly.
1. Remind yourself that this is a season, not forever.
Sleep-deprived moms see light at the end of the tunnel.
Psychologically this is so, so powerful. Knowing and accepting that this is the season you are in right now helps you feel calmer and more at peace. Knowing, and reminding yourself, that this will not last forever, helps you keep going.
It gives you hope that you will indeed sleep once more…one day!
2. Get outside for a walk
Fresh air, exercise, and sunshine (if you can find it) all help the sleep-deprived mom tremendously.
I find this one a complete game-changer. In fact, even in the pouring rain, in the middle of winter, I found popping my little one in the buggy and going for a short walk, really helped me feel more awake and boosted my mood.
If you need some added motivation, find another sleep-deprived mom to join you on your daily, or twice-weekly, walks in the great outdoors.
3. Practice Positive Self-Talk
I have found this one is so crucial to surviving this season. It’s such a small, simple change of mindset, but it gave me back so much energy.
Your brain holds so much power, and you can wield that for good to help yourself out.
Basically, you just need to be really aware of how you’re talking to yourself in your head. Shifting to beginning your sentences with ‘I can’ and ‘I choose’ can make a massive impact to your perspective. Taking back control and ownership of your life makes such a difference. I found that even in the space of a morning, I begin to feel better.
As an example, I would replace, ‘I can’t go out tonight, because my baby won’t let me sleep so I’m too exhausted’ , with ‘ I am choosing to stay in tonight to prioritize my sleep, as I am in a season where sleep is hard to come by. I choose to prioritize responding to my babies needs overnight, even though it is hard for me.’
This mindset shift helps your self-esteem and positively affects how you see yourself too. Instead of viewing yourself as a bad friend, or a bit pathetic, when you can’t make plans; you see yourself as a good mom, prioritizing her baby and her own well-being and doing a good job looking after both.
Long-term solutions for sleep-deprived moms
4. Take a break where you can
If someone offers you a break, and you trust them to look after your kid, then go for it! Don’t feel guilty, don’t second guess yourself, or worry what others might think. Take the break, get the sleep (or rest) you need, and enjoy it!
If you have a partner, consider ways they can help to ease your sleep deprivation. Can you take turns to get up with your little one, whilst the ‘off duty’ parent wears earplugs and gets a full nights sleep? Even just one night a week of this would help.
My kids are a little older now (4 +7), but my youngest still wakes in the night and early in the morning. At the weekends, we take it in turns to have a long-lie in. (All the way to 9am!) This worked so well for us when we were in the trenches, as it were, and it continues to work for us now. Even psychologically, knowing that its just a few days until you get a proper sleep can really help.
If you have a friend or relative always offering to help, take them up on the offer. Even if they just take your little one for an hours pram walk or a trip to the local park, while you grab a quick power nap!
It can make the world of difference!
5. Surround yourself with other moms
Surrounding yourself with other moms who can encourage, support and commiserate with you is so powerful.
Ideally, a good percentage of these other parents should also be sleep-deprived, or have experienced this season. There’s nothing worse than feeling alone, so surround yourself with other people who really do ‘get it’ and remind yourself that other new moms feel the same. You are all in this new mom sleep-deprived fog together!
6. Learn some ‘calm down’ techniques
Let’s be real here, sleep deprivation can make us so grumpy and short-tempered. Try a few Youtube videos to learn some deep breathing techniques, try some easy meditation, and make sure you have a few techniques in your ‘calm down toolbox’.
I have found that practicing self-care is essential to keeping myself calm, especially as a sleep deprived mom. However, I completely get how hard it is to squeeze in self-care when you can’t even manage sleep just now. How to practice Self-Care when you have No Time, is full of easy, quick, ideas to fill your bucket when you’re a busy worn out mom with no spare time.
7. Build up your support system
This is always a great long-term strategy for any mom. It helps with so many of our struggles!
Long-term, having family or close friends who can babysit, bring round a meal, or offer a shoulder to cry on, is invaluable.
If you still need to acquire these contacts and friendships in pre-natal classes or fostering/adoption prep groups, then there is still plenty of time to make these friends. It is never too late! Check out, The Best Tips to Find ‘Mum Friends’ Easily, for some simple tips to get you started.
Knowing you have backup gives such peace of mind when you feel you can’t go on. Trust me, it’s a game-changer!
Final words to help moms cope with sleep deprivation with a newborn
Finally, I just want to say that you are never alone. Hopefully these strategies will help you ride the storm that is sleep deprivation.
However, if your sleep deprivation is causing problems with your mental health, or you have other serious concerns, please reach out to someone you know and trust, or contact a charity, like the Samaritans, for support.
We have all been there with the sleep deprivation, but we all suffer it to varying degrees. No good mom is going to judge you for feeling overwhelmed and needing a little extra help.
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